It’s October, meaning it is Halloween, meaning it’s time to read spooky books! I thought I’d finally read one that I’ve somehow never read before—Coraline.
In Coraline by Neil Gaiman, the titular character and her parents have recently moved into a large house. The building is divided into four flats, though only three are occupied. The other one on Coraline’s floor is vacant, separated from her own by a brick wall and a door. But Coraline is naturally curious, and one day when she opens the door, she finds that the wall is gone. And through the door is a flat identical to hers, and two people identical to her parents. Well, not identical: they are as caring and devoted as her real parents are distant and dismissive, not to mention their button eyes. But not all is as it seems, Coraline soon realizes, and she has to figure out how to escape the grasp of her “other mother” before it’s too late.
I’ve read a few books by Gaiman now, and this is definitely one of the best ones I’ve read so far! Coraline is a clever protagonist, and you really feel her fear and determination, cheering her on throughout the story. This book makes her sympathetic and relatable for anyone, even adults, while also clearly showing her to be a child. She’s young, and that is not a weakness, and her child’s imagination and spirit are real assets to her. This book really celebrates being a kid, and how much people can underestimate children simply due to their age.
The other characters are good too, but of course I’m mainly going to talk about the other mother, who is the most important character other than Coraline. She is extremely unsettling, and the escalation of her attempts to get Coraline to stay is perfectly paced, thrilling, and pretty scary. It’s a strange relationship she and Coraline have, by turns kind and gentle and then harsh and frightening. I loved seeing Coraline push past her fear and stand up to her.
In the end, I can see why this is basically a modern classic. It’s creepy, exciting, and fast-paced. The characters are vivid and have fascinating interactions. Some plot elements, especially during the last act of the story, probably would be intense for some younger or sensitive readers, but if you have a kid who loves scary stories (or are a kid at heart), this is definitely a great read!
Overall rating: 8.5/10